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Networks of Inventors and the Location of University Research: An Exploration of Italian Data

University-industry knowledge transfer is nowadays a very fashionable research subject, both in economics, and in management and policy studies. "Distance" between the two realms of academic and industrial research has been increasingly called in to explain the extent at which the academic research benefits (or should benefit) the industrial R&D. In particular, empirical research has focussed on two concepts of "distance": geographical and cognitive. However, both kinds of proximity favour industrial R&D performance insofar they are facilitating factors for reducing social distance between academic and industrial researchers, which result in the exchange of knowledge through codified means or the mobility of researchers. We suggest that both classic and more recent contributions to the economics of knowledge, as well as most of the empirical research on the contribution of universities to commercial innovation, imply or openly suggest a number of propositions on social networks, both of corporate researchers and academic scientists, as well as of researchers from both communities. We also suggest that testing those propositions requires the identification of social links among corporate researchers, which in turn calls for data on personal acquaintances and the application of tools taken from social network analysis. We then describe the results of our data collection efforts in that direction (the EPO-INV and EPO-INV-DOC databases), and a few exploratory findings.

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Paper provided by KITeS, Centre for Knowledge, Internationalization and Technology Studies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy in its series KITeS Working Papers with number 127.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2002
Date of revision: May 2002
Handle: RePEc:cri:cespri:wp127
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  1. Paul Almeida & Bruce Kogut, 1999. "Localization of Knowledge and the Mobility of Engineers in Regional Networks," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 45(7), pages 905-917, July.
  2. Allen, Robert C., 1983. "Collective invention," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 1-24, March.
  3. Anthony Arundel & Aldo Geuna, 2001. "Does Proximity Matter for Knowledge Transfer from Public Institutes and Universities to Firms?," SPRU Working Paper Series 73, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
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